The Western Balkans region is very vulnerable to foreign disinformation, which has intensified in recent years. Why is this? What can be done to mitigate it?


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The NATO Review website published this piece by Daniel Sunter, the following is an excerpt.

Demonising the United States and NATO; presenting the EU as weak and divided; advertising Russian military might and COVID-19 vaccine superiority, and claiming that Western vaccine producers are corrupt; and amplifying threat perceptions, myths and ethnic tensions – these are among the most frequent topics of disinformation promoted by the Kremlin in the Serbian-language media in the Western Balkans. Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia are the most affected by Russian information operations that attempt to undermine the European Union and NATO in the region.

In a broader sense, disinformation is an endemic phenomenon in the Western Balkans caused by internal factors. Without exception, all nations in the region are affected. When it comes to foreign disinformation, Serbia is considered to be at the epicentre. The latest disinformation study of the European Parliament called it a “launchpad for Russian disinformation operations in the Western Balkans”.

The flow of information between countries in the region is borderless. Close social, historical and cultural ties between Serbia, the Bosnian Serb entity of Republika Srpska and Montenegro mean that almost all media narratives, including disinformation, flow across borders daily.

Kremlin-sponsored media content in the Serbian language is produced, republished and disseminated widely throughout the region. It is consumed by millions in societies with inherent fragilities and internal divisions, in a region which traditionally has a positive attitude towards Russia and where perceptions are still influenced by the ethnic conflicts in the 1990s and NATO’s Kosovo Air Campaign in March 1999. Unlike Eastern-flank EU and NATO member states, the region lacks negative historical experiences with Moscow and shares a common Orthodox religion.

Beyond the idealistic presentation of Russia’s leadership and its weapons, such disinformation demonises NATO and the United States, fuels ethnic tensions and presents the European Union as a dysfunctional, racist and anti-Serb organisation. It amplifies the threat perceptions of the Orthodox population as well as a culture of remembrance that portrays Russia and the Soviet Union as powerful protectors throughout history.

We recommend that you read the rest of this very informative piece at its source, here.

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farouk
farouk
7 months ago

I have to laugh, in each and every country where disinformation regards the west is promulgated, there biggest export is their people in search of a better life

Steve
Steve
7 months ago
Reply to  farouk

Hardly true on the export front, they aren’t the richest countries, but that makes manufacturing there a big export because of cheap labour. Ironically same reason they come to the west, to take fill roles that locals won’t take because of low wages. This type of disinformation doesn’t really work on the masses, it only works on the type of person that is too stupid to see reality, is already anti west, and therefore open to having their already negative views amplified. Trump played on that type of person to win, as most elections are won/lost by a handful of… Read more »

lee1
lee1
7 months ago
Reply to  Steve

There is huge disinformation in the UK. There are many campaigns spreading all sorts of disinformation, from the spread of untruths aimed at hampering the sales of Electric cars to our own PM spreading lies about the EU and about the benefits of Brexit and there is huge misinformation about science etc especially when it comes to climate change conspiracies. We are surrounded by it and it does have an effect. There are plenty of people that still believe France helped the Argentinians in the Falklands despite it being untrue they are not necessarily stupid people they have just been… Read more »

John Stott
John Stott
7 months ago
Reply to  lee1

I agree with your points mostly. The “wokeness” we see peddled is actually peddled by certain sectors. Usually lefty academics and arty-farty actors via the BBC. The media magnify, along with social media. It is cultural Marxism at work. Meanwhile, we suffer from politicians who lie daily. We saw it in southern Africa, we see it in the old “free world”, creeping communism, it can’t win at the ballot box so it eats away at institutions slowly. As a veteran of three cap badges ( not bragging rights ), I see the way society treats vets, its elderly and people… Read more »

lee1
lee1
7 months ago
Reply to  John Stott

Wokeness is not really a thing. It is peddled by the right as a reason not to care or a reason to be fearful of the left. However most so called woke issues are simply people who do not want to change attacking people that do want to see change. Portraying people as “woke” is simply a slur in order to try to turn the tide against change. There are genuinely far left groups pushing agendas but these are in a minority of so called “woke” cases. For instance I don’t think you have to be on the far left… Read more »

John Stott
John Stott
7 months ago
Reply to  lee1

Wokeness is ‘a thing’. Peddled in our schools, health service and armed forces. Guess we can disagree on the BBC. Look at certain formely thriving countries to see where this goes. Its the old domino effect but slower. I maintain that any belief or trust in government is a serious personality disorder. The cure? Too radical for the little Englanders who haunt this forum ?

lee1
lee1
7 months ago
Reply to  John Stott

As a Governor at a school and my wife being a teacher, I can tell you that Wokeness is not peddled in our schools. Children are taught to be tolerant of each others differences but that is not wokeness that is just common decency. Neither myself or my wife are lefties yet both of us are accused of such for caring about the environment and being anti-racist. It is offensive to me to be labelled as a leftie for simply being a decent human being. What formerly thriving countries are you talking about? Also what is this cure you suggest?… Read more »

John Stott
John Stott
7 months ago
Reply to  lee1

My late wife was a headteacher, one niece currently. Apparently, she was asked to use a BBC video for online sessions, this was also in the MSM. It referred to there being over a hundred genders. The former countries l refer to are Rhodesia, South Africa and Kenya. There are many others. The cure? Constitutional Republicanism. Reform of the Prussian “education” system to one based on libertarian style teaching, not indoctrination. I did not call you a lefty, And government? Should not be trusted with anything other than emptying bins.

lee1
lee1
7 months ago
Reply to  John Stott

Rhodesia was taken over by a dictator. South Africa was taken over by the Far Right and Kenya has been fighting against insurgents for decades… I have no idea how that relates to “woke”. Genders are a discussion topic I am sure. It is based on many psychological factors. It is important to discuss these things as shoving them under the carpet does no good at all. Remember we effectively killed one of our greatest ever minds and someone who was a genuine hero by chemically castrating him because he was gay and therefore a danger to the public! Who… Read more »

lee1
lee1
7 months ago
Reply to  John Stott

Also Constitutional Republicanism is not exactly any different from what we already have. I am not sure what benefits we would gain or what purpose it would serve. I mean the US is a Constitutional Republic and it is pretty much a religious state.

As for Libertaranian Education, That is also not a million miles away from what we have. We have already moved to teaching around discussions (Something you criticised) and allowing children to form opinions. In fact it is children forming opinions that is so threatening to the far right.